“This hope we have as an anchor for our souls” (Hebrews 6:19).
Richard John Neuhaus, a Christian social critic, was picked up at the Pittsburgh airport and driven to his speaking engagement. The entire drive, his host lamented about the disintegration of the American social fabric and the absence of Christian values in our culture. Cases in point were too numerous to mention, but the man did anyway. On and on, he railed against every known failure of humans, particularly his favorite sins. Finally, as they neared their destination, Neuhaus offered these words of advice: “Friend, the times may be bad, but they are the only times we are given. Never forget, hope is a Christian virtue and despair a mortal sin.”
Hope is a virtue. Despair a mortal sin.
If there is one group of people on the planet who should be forever hopeful and expectant, it’s the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you want to see hope in the flesh, find a dedicated fisherman. Someone asked one of those guys, “How can you stand it to stay out here in the hot sun all day without catching anything?” The fisherman said, “Hold it–I think I feel something.” When the line went slack, he said, “He’ll be back.” Then, he turned to his friend and said, “What were you saying?”
This younger generation does not remember, but nearly 20 years ago, as the year 2000 approached, many people were predicting cosmic disaster on several levels. Oddly enough, similar doomsday forecasts had been made for the year 9-9-1999. And, those of us who were around then, can recall the guy who spent a small fortune forecasting the end of the world as we know it for 1988. And when that didn’t happen, he announced he had misfigured and the date was in 1989. We all know how that turned out.
People love doomsday, love to be fearful, love to be anxious–and they get mad at you for not joining them. They look upon the hopeful as dreamers.
My journal tells of the director of missions in a Texas Baptist association who had an unpleasant encounter with a doomsday pastor. As the year 2000 was nearing, this guy wanted my friend to devote a large portion of his ministry budget to stocking up on disaster supplies. When he refused, the pastor became really angry. My notes have nothing on the guy’s reaction when his fears did not come to pass, but knowing human nature, I imagine that rather than apologize and compliment the leader for keeping his head, the fellow pulled into his shell and cut off all contact with the leadership. People act that way when they cannot come to terms with their own fears and failures.
When I say on Facebook that pastors should not be assailing every sin in our society but should be preaching the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a certain segment comes out of the woodwork to accuse me of being unbiblical (“Read Amos! Read Daniel!”) and wanting to preach the easy stuff. I assure them that while I believe the Old Testament prophets, God has not called us (and Christ has not sent us) as prophets, but as evangelists of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Every disciple of Christ should for forced to sit down and answer the question: Why exactly is the message of Jesus good news?
Then, go preach it. People are dying for some good news, and we have the best there is and ever shall be.